MIAMI: Drug-tainted New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez will retire after his contract expires in 2017, he told ESPN on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
“I won’t play after next year,” the 40-year-old said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time for me to go home and be a dad.”
“A-Rod” is slated to earn $40 million over the final two seasons of the $275 million deal he inked before the 2008 Major League Baseball campaign.
Some $25 million of salary under that deal was surrendered when Rodriguez missed the entire 2014 season while serving a suspension for his role in the Biogenesis performance enhancing drug distribution scandal.
He returned on opening day of 2015 after a ban that lasted 162 games and has played almost exclusively as a designated hitter.
If he can match his 2015 home run output of 33 in each of the next two seasons, he would finish his career nine home runs short of Barry Bonds’ all-time Major League record of 762.
Rodriguez is currently fourth on Major League Baseball’s all-time list with 687. He appears poised to pass Yankees legend Babe Ruth (714) for number three on the list, but could walk away trailing Bonds and Hank Aaron, who remains at number two with 755.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the news shouldn’t come as a surprise as Rodriguez enters his 22nd season.
“He’s going to be 42 at the end of his contract and you don’t see players playing really past that age,” Girardi said before the Yankees’ exhibition game against the Washington Nationals in Florida on Wednesday. “So I’m not really surprised.”
Bonds, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player and 14-time All-Star, is one of the game’s great talents, but like Bonds before him has become a symbol of the scourge of doping.
After Sports Illustrated reported in 2009 he had failed a drug test in 2003, he admitted to using performance enhancers from 2001-2003 — the first three seasons of his 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers.
At the time, steroids were not banned by Major League Baseball, and Rodriguez’s performances on the field, including during the Yankees 2009 World Series run, were enough to polish his reputation.
But the 2013 scandal involving the Biogenesis clinic in Florida revealed his use of PEDs had continued after MLB established their anti-doping policy.
He bitterly fought suspension before accepting the ban that cost him the 2014 campaign.
Last season he gradually won back fans with his efforts on the field and his oft-expressed gratitude for the chance to be back in the major leagues where he first played in 1994.